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Making Educational Ethnography Matter –
Lessons from Work with Indigenous Youth

Friday 15 February at 10.00 am

Teresa L. McCarty
George F. Kneller Chair in Education and Anthropology
University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Anthropologists of education have long struggled to find ways to make our ethnographies useful to policymakers and practitioners. Can ethnographic research, as Dell Hymes (1980, 1974) argued, be a form of democratic science?  Drawing on a recent large-scale study of Indigenous youth language ideologies and practices, and an ethnographic case study in a trilingual Spanish-Navajo-English public school in the U.S. Southwest, this presentation argues that if ethnographic research into educational inequities is to go beyond the academy – if it is to “matter” – it must be undertaken in close partnership with local stakeholders, who play powerful roles in the identification of problems and the development of research programs to address them.  The presentation concludes by considering the implications of such an ethnographic project in an educational policy environment of growing racial, ethnic, and linguistic exclusion.

teresa mccarty

Teresa L. McCarty is the George F. Kneller Chair in Education and Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research and teaching focus on Indigenous/bilingual education, educational language policy, critical literacy studies, and ethnographic research in schools. She is the past president of the Council on Anthropology and Education, the former editor of Anthropology and Education Quarterly, and associate editor of Language Policy and American Educational Research Journal. Her books include A Place To Be Navajo – Rough Rock and the Struggle for Self-determination in Indigenous Schooling (Erlbaum, 2002), Language, Literacy, and Power in Schooling (Erlbaum, 2005), “To Remain an Indian” – Lessons in Democracy from a Century of Native American Education (with K. T. Lomawaima, Teachers College Press, 2006), Ethnography and Language Policy (Routledge, 2011), and Language Planning and Policy in Native America (Multilingual Matters, 2013).